Habits and thoughts and action, Oh My!

March 6, 2017

"You can not control how you feel. You can not control what triggers you, but you can control your thoughts and how you behave."

- Mel Robbins - The 5 Second Rule



How many times have you said to your kid "Get ahold of yourself!", which meant "Get ahold of your emotions and feelings!" 


Last week I watched a podcast where Mel Robbins was interviewed on her new book The 5 Second Rule, and "felt" an overwhelming desire to write a post, more importantly, it was logical to share what I learned....


No, this has nothing to do with food on the floor. The 5 Second Rule was developed unintentionally, to solve one person's anxiety and inaction (Mel's), and was "thrown" in at the end of her first TEDTalk. Once the TEDTalk was released online, others started implementing this "thrown in" suggestion......the result was life changing for over 100,000 people.... more on this a little later.


The following is a recap of what I found most interesting, however, you can Google Mel Robbins Lewis Howes Podcast to see the actual podcast.


Mel describes the brain in 2 modes - Autopilot and Drive. 


Autopilot: an example is crossing your arms. Naturally, you will put one arm over the other... no thinking necessary. Research shows we spend half of our day on auto-pilot! Half of our day! And when you are on autopilot, any behavior you repeat can take over.... when you consider that we have between 15,000 - 50,000 thoughts a day, 80% of which are negative - and the behavior patterns we're most likely to repeat are our thinking patterns.... you can appreciate how important having as many positive thoughts a day truly is.. 


It's during our time on autopilot, Mel says, that any behavior you repeat can take over. That's a bit alarming in itself, even more alarming is thinking about the above statistics - 80% of our thoughts are negative - and thinking patterns are the most easily repeated patterns. Thinking patters such as self-doubt, worry, fear and procrastination. 


Habit: noun: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially on that is hard to give up.  


The good news, these thinking patterns are actually habits. Habit of worrying, habit of fear, habit of procrastination. And habits can be broken. They are hard to give up, not impossible. Mel concludes, "any thinking pattern can be interrupted and replaced." 


Drive: drive happens in your prefrontal cortex. This is the mode that takes action, where you determine your thoughts, you determine how you respond to something. This is also the mode your brain engages in when learning new behaviors or something difficult. 


According to Mel and researchers she worked with, the 5 second rule works because it "awakens your prefrontal cortex which allows you to change your patterns". 


Think about a time when you made a change in your life or behaviors. Did you a) think and feel your way through the change? or b) take action through the change?  


"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." - Dale Carnegie.


The 5 Second Rule is simple: any time you find yourself hesitating, losing focus, worrying or thinking negatively about a situation, simply count: 5....4....3....2....1.... Mel came up with this idea after being depressed, knowing what she should do, but not being able to take action. She saw a commercial with a rocket launching and she said to herself, "That's it! Tomorrow morning I'm going to count down and shoot out of bed like a rocket!" 


As I work with students, it's amazing to see their confidence rise with each simple action they commit to and take. As adults we sometimes get caught up in big actions, I know I do. But coaching teens and young adults, I'm always reminded that the little actions done consistently add up to greater confidence and courage than any one huge action. 


Antonio Damasio, neuroscientist, found that 95% of the decisions we make are made with feelings, not logic. When you think about this, it makes sense. Think about how you communicate with your child, your spouse, your colleagues or anyone else you interact with on a regular basis. People will make decisions that are based on their self-interest, not yours. Even if you know for certain that they should make a decision because it is in their best interest, they'll only make a decision when you've helped them see their problem and how your suggestion helps to solve that problem. 


Coaching is a process that allows teens to create a picture/vision of what areas of their life they would like to improve, enhance or change. Once they've identified and clarified for themselves what they want changed/improved, what they want it to look like and why it's important to them, I then help them design actions for themselves, to make that change possible. It's taking their emotions and turning them into action........ the result is increased confidence, more focus, less stress and increased awareness.


All children want to live the best version of themselves, many simply don't know who that is or how to get there. Through the coaching process, I provide a non-jugemental environment where they can consider what's most important to them, challenge their assumptions/thoughts and ultimately take action. 




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